Chinatown Cultural Plaza tenants
upset with management

They're being told to pay back taxes and fees

Star-Bulletin staff

Tenants at the Chinatown Cultural Plaza are upset at notices to pay for maintenance and property taxes going back five years, which the property's managers say were undercharged by the previous manager.

About 100 tenants of the downtown retail plaza have received notices but it is not known how many have agreed to a two-year installment payment plan from the management company.

The Chinatown Cultural Plaza Tenants Association declined to comment on the situation.

One tenant, R.E. Venture Inc., doing business as the Asian Mall, filed suit last month in Circuit Court against Longevity International Enterprises Corp., the current managers.

Longevity took over management of the plaza in December 1994 from Taiwanese managers, who are not named in the lawsuit.

The plaza, bordered by Beretania, Maunakea, and Kukui streets, and the River Street Mall, is owned by China Airlines, the Taiwan-government airline.

According to the lawsuit, R.E. Venture was undercharged by $52,180 for property taxes from 1989 to 1994. Because of the undercharging during the five years, the lawsuit says, R.E. Venture was unable to pass along these charges to its subtenants.

Attorney Alfredo Evangelista said in the suit that R.E. Venture also suffered from "gross mismanagement" by the previous manager. R.E. Venture says mismanagement cost the company $1 million in lost rents and profits. Among other complaints, R.E. Venture also alleges that poor maintenance of the sewer system led to flooding of more than 50 percent of the leased space.

Plaza management, in its January newsletter, recognized that tenants are upset. "Tenants have responded reasonably and some emotionally (upset) after receiving their notice to pay their share of the undercollection of the real property taxes of the years 1989 through 1994," the newsletter said.

"We certainly understand this. Undercollection is due to the management's negligence over the years involved. Rex Fa, our current general manager, would like to assure all the tenants that he will not let this happen again in the future. Regarding prior years, however, it is still the landlord's right to collect the deficit from the tenants according to the signed lease agreement."

Fa was unavailable for comment on the lawsuit.

However, the newsletter did issue a plea for calmness. "The management office is merely doing its job in compliance with the company's policy. We hope you all can understand this."

In a March 7 letter to the Chinatown Cultural Plaza Tenants Association, Fa outlined the company offer. "In this offer, the tenants would agree to pay us a down payment and 24 equal monthly installment payments," Fa wrote. "Once the agreement is signed, timely payments would earn each tenant a discount on their current month's rent. The discount rate we set is based on the ratio of the total amount of the tax to be paid and the amount of monthly rent of the tenant." He wrote that some tenants had accepted the offer.

The Asia Mall opened at the plaza in 1989 with about 18,000 square feet. The mall was planned for two anchor restaurants and 14 retail outlets.

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